Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Politics of the burqa continues in France

from CNN and Newsweek

The French government has moved one step closer to banning the burqa.

A bill has been sent to parliament that includes fines of 150 euros ($190) and/or a "citizenship course" as punishment for wearing a burqa. Forcing a woman to wear a burqa is punishable by a 15,000 euro ($19,000) fine and a year in prison.

The bill is not likely to be voted on before July in the National Assembly -- the lower house of parliament -- before it moves to the Senate in September.

Only about 2,000 women in France wear the burqa, an all-covering dress worn by some Muslim women, not to be confused with the head scarf, or hijab.

The French government calls the burqa, "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil."

Still, there are the issues of agency and religious freedom.

Mansura Bashir Minhas of Miami, Fla. tells Newsweek, "As a Muslim woman who chooses to cover herself voluntarily, I am extremely fortunate to be living in the United States, where the Constitution guarantees and respects my personal freedom and choice to practice my faith. It is incomprehensible how a ban on the veil can help secure France's secular tradition. It would only fuel resentment and further alienate the Muslim population in Europe."

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